Welcome to Twin Peaks! An Interview with a First Time Viewer, Part 1

For our First Time Lynch Series, I Interviewed my friend, J. Schmidt about the show. He knew little to nothing, I spoiled nothing and he had a thoroughly interesting time. Below you’ll find the transcript of the interview we conducted on Twin Peaks Season 1 Episode 1 – Season 2 Episode 6. Enjoy!

Original Interview recorded September 2017

Eileen G Mykkels: Welcome to you first interview for 25 Years Later!

J. Schmidt: Thank you I’m very excited!

EGM: Let’s start off by assessing where you were with this before you started Twin Peaks. What did you think it would be like?

JS: Since I follow you on Twitter, I’ve gotten more of a glimpse of what The Return is like, which you’ve described as being more “out there”, so I think coming into watching the show, I first figured it would be more bizarre and out there. Also, general social media gave me the feel that it would be a much more bizarre show, but I think after watching it at least to where I am now which is about halfway through season two, it is definitely interesting and unique, but not as strange and crazy as I thought it would be.

EGM: Is it anything like you anticipated, or not? Did you have expectations at all?

JS: No, honestly. I guess maybe I didn’t expect it to be…it does kind of have that soap opera feel. I didn’t expect that at all. And I did not expect it to be funny. I definitely find the show funny and I think it has really good humor and I did not expect that.  I figured it would be a lot more serious, darker, intense…but it is definitely funny. There’s a lot of good comic relief and humor, which I think is cool.

EGM: Knowing you as well as I do, I know you appreciate that.

JS: The humor goes in line with the show’s absurdities, and my sense of humor matches that quirky and ridiculous sensibility.

EGM: How did you approach watching Twin Peaks for the first time? Mentally, physically?

JS: I kind of got the idea that the show was going to be one that you had to focus on. I know that a lot of people my age, nowdays, will watch the show and do other things too, twinpeakscastwhich is kind of weird. I know people that will watch a show and write a paper, or this or that, and I made sure that, because I wanted to be fully involved, I left my phone off to the side and really just got rid of all distractions and just watched. I felt it would be important because it seemed from what I gathered it would be a show with a lot of detail and things that matter later on, so I wanted to make sure that I was very focused. I also made sure that I finished the other shows I was watching at the time so that I could just focus on Twin Peaks.

EGM: You said that you could see the “Modern cinematography” in the Pilot episode and I explained to you about the International pilot. Do you still see that as you watch? Does it bother you that it’s more like a regular television show now?

JS: I definitely see the cinematography being ahead of its time. For a show that was made in 1989, it feels the way a current show might – Breaking Bad, Netflix dramas – but using the equipment from the 90s. So I feel like it holds true through most episodes, regarding camera angles and shots, scenes where it feels like you’re watching something that’s made now, but intentionally to look like the 90s, even though it really was the 90s. I think a lot of the ideas they had were ahead of its time. It’s easy to see early on in Season 2 and after Episode 6 there was a lot of elements in that episode that were great. Particularly music and recurring themes there. It doesn’t bother me when it strays from these elements because I think it’s part of the essence of the show. There are things that are definitely very, even at this point,  bizarre and out there, and then there are things that are so normal, so I think it’s good that the show has a mix of unique and fairly normal techniques. It has cheesy soap opera scenes, like with Donna and James, but there’s also very interesting and unique scenes with other characters.

EGM: Do you have a favourite character?

JS: I do. Just from watching as much as I have, it’s Dale Cooper. I think he’s great.

EGM: What make Dale your favourite?

JS: I have a lot of respect for actors and writers that do a good job of presenting a character that is already decently evolved. His character feels like he’s been doing what twin_peaks_kyle_he’s doing for a long time. It doesn’t feel like his first case. Also, Kyle MacLachlan does such a good job of already being that character right out the gate all the way through. Some, you can tell are evolving into their roles and he — you don’t feel like you’re watching an actor. You feel like you’re watching Dale Cooper and then other people acting. Also he’s funny. I like his little quirks. I like his obsession with coffee and pie. I think it’s hilarious. He’s the best character from an importance of the show perspective and from an acting perspective. Close second is, honestly….[Laughs] Can I just be honest?

EGM: Be honest!

JS: So I really do think James is hilarious. I get why he gets shit on but honestly his character is so funny and he’s always causing rifts between side characters and is strangely so involved with half the subplots for what appears to be almost no reason. I think he’s great too.

The only thing that I find weird about some of the characters is that I feel like they sometimes have sideplots or sidestories (definitely more in Season 2) that feel unnecessary. A part of that is, because they went from having a very concise 8 episode season to having to fill 22 episodes primetime TV spot, so it needs more content to appeal to the different types of viewers. So I get it, but the first season is so concise and so well done that I wish it would have retained some of those elements.

EGM: What I think is really interesting is that you are saying a lot of things that many people already say, who have been saying these things since it was airing. It is hard, with network expectations, and the full season. It gets difficult and it does change the styling.

JS: Very rarely — even with unique shows — you find a show that, the way in which they care about their viewers is by not caring about the mass audience. It is so rare to find a show like that. Most that are nowadays are more often than not comedy, animated and take many, many liberties. So having a show like this that is definitely on the weirder, more unique side in the 90s meant appearing to a wider audience, so I am excited to watch it grow.

EGM: You’ll definitely get more of that in The Return than Season 2 which…devolves as it goes on. But it will pick back up. The Return doesn’t care.

JS: That’s awesome and I’m really excited for that.

EGM: It’s going to be different! I’m excited to see where you go from here to there! So, moving on, what about a least favourite character??

JS: Personally — and this is because I’ve been trying to watch the show with a certain amount of analytical sense — and I feel as though, currently, Ed Hurley is the least important character, yet they spend a decent amount of time on him comparatively, despite the fact that he doesn’t really contribute a whole lot yet to the plot and what’s happening. With his wife…it’s kind of funny and interesting, but it doesn’t add much to the plot. I feel like they could be spending more time on other characters. But, yet again, part of that is because of what they were trying to do with Season 2, appealing to certain group. He didn’t have as much time spent on him in season 2. I don’t think that what the actor does on screen is bad by any means, just the concepts of the character, moreso.

EGM: Sure. Everett McGill is great but I agree that what he was given is one of the more soapy plots.

JS: If you ever watch an anime, there’s always that character that soaks up filler story lines but doesn’t contribute too much to the main plot.

EGM: He’s only really connected tangentially through James to the main plot, despite the fact that the two characters hardly ever interact. They’re related but their plots never intersect up till this point. Considering that, which side story is it that has captured your attention the most?

JS: Up to this point, and I did just get a bit more closure on this in the last episode, the guy that Donna is seeing in Meals on Wheels programme, Harold, really intrigued me because his character is just so bizarre. You go into his house, and he’s got newer looking furniture, he’s obsessed with plants, doesn’t want to go outside and had a relationship with Laura, and I was just wondering why? So they revealed more of that in the last episode, where they’re trying to get Laura’s secret diary, which is really cool. That story interested me a lot because it felt like it had a lot of importance to the secrets Laura was keeping and the keys to it are kept in someone who is very bizarre and strange.

There are a lot of little side plots!

EGM: There are! The other thing that is difficult with Harold is that we don’t know the full extent of his relationship with Laura and we also don’t know if he’s a bystander, a victim, an aggressor. It’s hard to tell at this point. How do you feel coming through closure with that previous episode. How do you feel about that now?

JS: At heart, I don’t think he’s aggressive. I know he was with the girls when they tried to steal the diary, but I don’t think he’s like that at heart. I think that he was used by Laura. Laura, the more we find out, seems to have been extremely selfish, she has all these secrets and was using all  sorts of people, like a bit of a mental terrorist, seeing all these 1b8b8a5cdeef0fc08408abde3f8bac94people on the side, doing things behind their backs, causing others to connect with her, though in her heart it doesn’t seem like she was every really connected with anyone, rather focused on herself and what she was doing. I think that Harold is hurt by the whole situation. I think he felt that he was loved by her and connected in a special way, and maybe he comes to realize that he isn’t as special as he thought. Maybe that’s why he was aggressive with the girls, because he wanted to have the diary for himself to feel that special connection with Laura, but I think he’s basically a victim of Laura’s. They spend a lot of time trying to solve her murder, but all these side characters  keep finding out how Laura was hurting other people too before she died.

EGM: Yeah, I think you’re going to find out more about Laura than you maybe want to know!

JS: I want to know as much as possible! I find it crazy that they are so — there’s irony for the audience of course, Cooper doesn’t know any of these things that the audience has found out through Donna and the others, as time has gone on — so focused on solving the case. What might he think when he finds out these things that the side characters know? So I think Laura’s character is the most interesting on the show, even though she’s dead, which is cool!

EGM: That’s a hard thing to accomplish; she’s essentially a plot device in the beginning— the dead girl, but her character is so well rounded by the end of the show and then eventually into the film and further elements that it feels as though she’s been alive the whole time.

JS: Exactly! I agree! It’s a very unique character but they’ve done a good job taking a plot device so impactful, like she is.

EGM:  Season One and Two have a lot of differences. I was with you for the Season 2 opener and I know that it was difficult for you to get through the sequence with Dale bleeding out I mean. How do you feel about the choices made there?

JS: I thought it definitely dragged on [laughs] for longer than it should have. I thought that it was totally bizarre. There have been objectively weirder things – I don’t like that word. There have been things that I think more people would find weird on the show than this, like the red room from Cooper’s dream — people would think that’s crazy, super out there, weird — but I felt that the fact that he was just laying on the floor, nothing happening just bleeding out and Senor Droolcup walking in and doing nothing…It felt out of place even for the show’s strangeness. It was like “Okay, how is this guy even employed?” It wasn’t even a vision! It’s just a dude that works there! How is this what’s happening to the main character? Thinking back on it though, I think it was good for Cooper, because it gave him this almost out of body experience that was real before the actual ‘out of body’ experience that he “had”, by meeting the Giant. It gave him a dose of reality that’s so bizarre that was actually REAL and then he gets presented with something  that is a vision, not-real, per say, and allows him to take that more seriously. Even though he’s have those dreams, having a vision that feels so real like that it might be, as a person who is bleeding out, going into shock, it might not be taken as seriously, but having the situation be what it is, this old dude doesn’t help you while you’re bleeding out, maybe helps him accept the vision as reality? Maybe that’s what they were trying to convey?

EGM: A hallmark of David Lynch’s work is the absurd in reality and occasionally being more absurd that fiction — you know, we say, “Reality is stranger than fiction” and in a lot of cases it actually is. I was very much troubled by this sequence my first go around because you expect, when someone’s been shot, a sense of urgency, and when I watched it with you I felt very validated because you’re sitting there thinking “What! Come on! He’s dying!”

JS: Yeah! [Laughs] Seriously! What’s going on?! Honestly, if you see someone bleeding on the floor, you do something! Definitely ridiculous!

EGM: I think this will be something interesting to revisit as you continue with the show. The long, drawn out nature is also something that you will have to become accustomed to. There’s this distinct juxtaposition between the naturalistic and the supernaturalistic in Twin Peaks. And I think you’ve noticed that in this sequence and others. Is the supernatural just a lens for viewing the natural, or is there more to it? Is the supernatural element real, or is it a metaphor?

JS: Before, I thought it was a metaphor, but after watching this latest episode, I no longer feel that way. It seemed like they pretty clearly presented BOB and his essence — Phillip Gerard in the interrogation room, he basically becomes possessed in that scene and talks twin-peaks-giant-970x545strangely, outside of the norm. I though all the dreams and the supernatural stuff with the Giant could be interpreted however the viewer wanted, but now I’m leaning towards it as being real for the characters. They’re trying to create this strange narrative — especially for Cooper — of what is real and what isn’t. And he is the kind of guy who is open to pretty much anything. And he is leaning towards there being something more. I might think differently later on, but that’s where I am right now.

EGM: Last time we talked you absolutely didn’t believe that Killer BOB was real. And now that you’re falling more on the side of the supernatural being real, maybe that is changed, but, considering that case, who do you believe killed Laura Palmer?

JS: Aw, man, that’s so hard! I don’t think it is BOB. I really don’t. Um. it’s so tough to figure out. What I’ve gathered right now is that there are so many characters in the show trying to benefit from other things, their demise, their lives…so I feel like Laura dying had to be for someone’s benefit, and I’ve been trying to figure out who that might be. There was this part of me that thought her Dad killed her, a little bit, but I don’t know how convinced I am about that. It’s such a hard question. It feels so up in the air. I guess, I’ll say it is Leland, but I don’t know. I’m skeptical. I don’t know.

EGM: You have a lot of questions, there’s a lot of things that you’re unsure of, for good reason. What are you questioning the most? Or, what has you the most confused, and befuddled, of everything that has happened so far?

JS: I’m not that confused about the Laura thing. The shows design is meant to keep me in the dark. I feel like I ought to be confused and questioning, like the characters. Every time they think they know what is going on, something new turns up or happens, or the police discover something, and are trying to figure things out. From the side plots, I’m mostly confused as to why Nadine has super strength! [Chuckles] Maybe that will tie in somewhere soon because there’s got to be a reason she didn’t die, and a reason for her super strength and her brain being ‘back in time’ at high school. I feel like something so unique and so bizarre couldn’t not tie in somewhere, so I’m intrigued to see where that goes.

EGM: It’s always interesting to see how the sideplots might entangle, as they’re pretty well contained from the supernatural.

JS: And it feels like another instance of the supernatural being a reality in the world of the characters.

EGM: I’m excited by your ideas and thoughts because it has been such a long time for me since I was a new viewer – though not as long as some obviously — and seeing it all through your eyes is fun for me. You have interesting viewpoints — some different, some that have been around for these twenty-five years. But definitely some different ones that I have not heard. It’s fun!

JS: I try to approach every bit of media I consume, even sports, analytically. Whether I’m correct or not is beside the point. I just try to watch everything that I do with a form of respect. So much content that is made and produced is done so with the intention for viewers to try and understand that the writer, maker, creator is trying to get across. So it is important as a viewer of anything — even a coach, how he tries to show that his team is good — to approach with an analytical mindset because the writers have put a lot into Twin Peaks, there’s so much, you can see it when you look for it, details that might be important later but don’t seem like it. Also, because I knew you were wanting to interview me too.

EGM: [Laughs]

JS: [Laughs] I didn’t want you to give me a question and be like “uhhhh”…

EGM: No one would blame you! But yeah, that’s a great way to approach media, especially something like Twin Peaks. One of the co-creators, David Lynch is an auteur. An Arthouse director, he came mostly from film. The was his first TV show to television. Lynch on TV was unheard of, and as an auteur, everything that he creates he puts so much of his signature on it that it’s ‘his’. He is the creator, the author of what’s on screen.220px-david_lynch_-microphone_-10aug2007-2p_28cropped29 Of course, with television this is different, as his involvement waned during Season 2, but on those episodes in which he was involved heavily, so much is his work. Those episodes, the season openers and finales and a few in between which he worked on closely. And we’ll talk about what that looked like later on, and what happened to the scripts when he was directing. It really does alter what you’re receiving. Taking it from an art critic point of view is definitely more rewarding with Twin Peaks.

JS: So Twin Peaks is actually a perfect example for the argument I’ve been making to many of my friends recently. Movies, for the most part? It is rare that I talk to someone between the ages of 17 and 25, maybe even 30 that genuinely enjoy movies. TV shows are so much more accepted — the premier form of content. A full story stretched across twenty, forty, sixty episodes. I’m watching Twin Peaks, and holy crap, am I happy it’s a TV series. If it were a movie? Two-and-a-half, three hours? Sure I bet it would be great, but as a TV show it allows you to see so much more of Lynch and Frost’s art across a much greater breadth of time. I’m so glad it’s not a movie. Breaking Bad got condensed online by some fans into a 3-hour movie, which I watched and it was good, but it was so much better as a five season show. Twin Peaks is a great example of the current mindset where TV is preferable over a movie.

EGM: To put this into a bit of context, David Lynch has not made a movie since 2006. And he’s actually been quoted as saying that cable television is the “new arthouse”. And he genuinely believes in the idea of long form stories being presented best in television, rather than film.

JS: Yes. He’s a genius! With movies, they have to appear to such a wide audience, they can’t be particular, and they leave out so much detail. Because of how popular TV and streaming services have become, every movie you watch feels like they left a ton out. Most movies I watch I wish were another hour or two longer. And then I think – man I wish this was just a TV series!

EGM: Definitely! I agree, in so many ways.

JS: He was clearly ahead of the time when he made Twin Peaks, and he’s clearly still ahead of the time now, and having his last movie in 2006. Film died then. It’s so hard to compete. When I was in high school, and had a “weaker mind” I was seeing movies all the time.

EGM: Binge culture has changed the face of media.

JS: I see, five, maybe six movies a year. And I don’t go and see ones that break the mold, as I want to watch them usually in a more private setting. The only ones I see on the big screen are traditional blockbusters, where you want that dynamic sound experience. He’s ahead of his time knowing that streaming and television are the best ways to display film as art.

EGM: So maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but I’m going to mention it anyways, since we’re on the topic. And maybe you’ll have more to answer in the future. The Return — Season 3 — was released in episode by episode weekly format, like regular television. But it was filmed as an 18-hour movie.

JS: That’s awesome!

EGM: So what it forced viewers to do was spend a week ruminating on the Part — they’re not episodes, they’re Parts — the Part of the movie they got to see, and then wait a week for more. How do you feel about that?

JS: Well, I feel like The Return must be a great title, because not only are viewers returning to Twin Peaks, but it’s a series that viewers are going to have to Return to, because, if it’s been make like an 18-hour movie, and you’re only watching an hour each week, the pacing has got to be just absolutely bizarre.  

EGM: The pacing is extremely bizarre! And that’s why you’ll have to get used to the long drawn out scenes.

JS:  It’s got be crazy. If I’m going to watch that, I’d want to sit down on a weekend and watch nine hours and then nine hours.

EGM: What I’m going to have you do is stop after part 8, so you’ll watch 8 hours and then 10 hours.

JS: The pacing will definitely be crazy. But not in a bad way. From what I’ve gathered, I feel like it’s a season that you’ll want to watch and rewatch again and again. You’ll want to watch it as a whole after that finale comes out to pick up things that you missed before.

EGM: I can speak for myself and most of my coworkers when I say that I’ve seen every episode at least 4, some 5 times. And it only ended 3 weeks ago. I would watch it when it came out. I would maybe rewatch it that night or the next day, two or three times total a week. And then, before the two parter finale, I binged parts 1-16. So I’ve seen 17 and 18 twice each and the rest almost 4 times.

JS: As a content producer, I can understand why you would want to do that.

EGM: And I know that you’re going to do it, so I don’t feel bad saying, when you binge this show, from beginning to end, as a movie, it feels so fluid. Whereas some of the Parts on their own each week can feel very flat and unrounded. But when you watch it as whole movie, it flows so perfectly.

JS: I’m sure! I totally believe that would be the case, especially considering how it was filmed.

EGM: Last question! You haven’t seen past Episode 6 of Season 2. Do you have any predictions regarding where the show is headed?

JS: Hmmm. I think that, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to suggest that we will have the killer revealed and potentially caught or confronted before the finale of Season 2, just based on how the show has been constructed. So often, the finale piece of the narrative is catching the bad guy, so I could see, ten episodes from now, what most would see as a potential climax of episode twenty two, being revealed earlier on, and then having there be repercussions or plotlines that unfold after.

EGM: Do you think that’s largely due to the fact that we had an 8 episode season and now a 22 episode season?

JS: Yes. And I think that the writing of the show is already indicative as unique in trying to break that mold, so, because of that 8 episode first season, leaving plot lines open, some of those might last longer while the main plot is wrapped up sooner. Leaving the end of the show more open. This is from and analytical perspective, not watching any of The Return, obviously, I don’t think The Return could be viewed as so successful if they had finished up Season 2 by closing up loose ends and solving everything. I guess I’m just using logic to connect some dots. Because, if the finale was them solving the case and everything being put to rest and complete, then new season wouldn’t have been so well received. It’s almost reminiscent of how the new Star Wars movies are. Disney took over and basically created a story on top of a story that was already completed, which it the reason there are many mixed reviews and a lot of hard-core fans that are thinking “eh, this sucked”. Twin Peaks having the following that it does…it doesn’t seem to me like it would have made sense for them to make this new story twenty five years later as a cash grab if they’d wrapped everything up in Episode 22. These are the type of viewers who would want it to be a continuation of something they felt was left open ended. So I feel like that it what will happen. They’ll close the Palmer case before the end of the show, but there will be new plot lines that happen after the fact that open up new story line avenues.

EGM: Alright! Do you have any final comments before I let you go to watch the next episode? Because I know you’ve been dying to do that for two days now!

JS: I have been dying! I was home most of the day today, because my restaurant doesn’t reopen until next week, so I’ve been wishing I could watch it! I think that, just based on twin-peaks-lelandhow the show has gone, Ben Horne is going to become a bigger plot contributor in the next couple episodes. He’s shown a willingness to ‘off’ people, but I don’t think it’ll be Cooper, I think he’s going to off Leland.

EGM: Leland!?

 

JS: He’s been so bizarre lately, so I feel like he’s going to get the ax. We’ll see!

EGM: Keep me apprised as you watch! I love living vicariously through this, and thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you! I really appreciate that you were interested in doing this.

JS: You’re welcome! Thank you for having me!

 


J. Schmidt’s journey through Twin Peaks will Continue next week with Season 2, Episode 7 through the Season 2 Finale, Episode 22.

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One Reply to “Welcome to Twin Peaks! An Interview with a First Time Viewer, Part 1”

  1. This is so funny. I’m watching TP right from the start at the moment with my girlfriend who has never seen it before. She knew I was an obsessive right from the start of our relationship so I think she was intrigued by it. At first she was very surprised at how different it is to what she was expecting. I don’t think she thought it was going to be as soapy as it is, as I’d built it up so much I think she thought it was going to be something more in line with the “golden age” prestige TV we saw over the past few years – Sopranos, the Wire, Mad Men etc. It’s very different and I think it took her a few episodes to get acclimatised to it. One comment she always makes is about the acting – I think with TV becoming more cinematic the acting and directing has become more “naturalistic” and verité. This is totally what TP is not. I think it’s fair to say for a while she obviously thought, “this is your favourite TV show? Really?” But she’s much more used to it now and now we’re in S2 she’s more used to the beats of it. I still think it’s strange looking at it through another person’s eyes. I was so gripped by it all those years ago, Agent Cooper was like Jesus to me, BOB was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. I was chewing my arm off every week just to know what happened. But now we’re older, nearly in our 40s, with time having moved on it’s interesting to see how it’s all reoriented itself and what is and isn’t important in the show. There’s SO MUCH about the mill and I know to come there is loads on Windom Earl and the Packards, which basically no-one talks about as fans. The concentration on certain aspects is really interesting, as is seeing it through the eyes of someone else.

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